Metal Matrix Composites, often shortened to MMC, refer to composite materials formed from at least two parts. The properties of these composites improve the material’s properties to provide benefits for certain applications. Some examples might include very durable components for drill bits or strong, lightweight parts for aerospace and transportation.
According to Science Direct, some examples of the advantages of MMCs might include high strength-to-weight ratios, low density, wear and fatigue resistance, and excellent heat-strength retention.
To create MMCs, metallurgists use the infiltration process. Take a moment to read an overview of how the infiltration process for matrix metal composites works. This discussion will explain how metallurgists make MMCs and how they compare to alloys.
The Infiltration Process for Creating Matrix Metal Composites
Infiltration describes a process of filling a sintered metal’s pores with another liquefied metal or metal alloy. The matrix metal refers to the sintered metal. Sintering refers to compacting materials through either heat or pressure but not melting the material into a liquid form. The introduction of other materials helps reinforce the matrix metal to improve necessary properties for the intended application.
Since sintering heats but doesn’t liquefy the matrix metal, the second component must have a lower melting point. During the process, pressure can also help drive the second material into the pores of the solid. Sometimes, metallurgists use a vacuum chamber for this.
Are Matrix Metal Composites the Same as Metal Alloys?
Some people ask if matrix metal composites could also be called alloys. This explains the difference between matrix metal composites and alloys:
- Alloys have one homogenous, or uniform, composition through an entire mixture. In contrast, composites are heterogeneous mixtures, even though multiple components may be tightly bound together.
- Also, an alloy refers to mixing two or more metals. Some materials used in matrix metal components might include non-metal materials, like carbon or ceramic fibers.
As a simple example of a heterogeneous mixture, think of sand and sugar mixed together. Even though the mix might look uniform, it actually contains distinct sand and sugar grains. Contrast this to brass, an alloy formed from a uniform mixture of copper and zinc. Note that one or more components of a matrix metal composite might be an alloy; however, a composite is not considered an alloy.
Belmont: The Source for MMC Material Supplies
Located in New York City, Belmont serves oil and gas drilling as the oldest provider of infiltration binder alloys. While the drilling industry has successfully used some of these alloys for decades, Belmont also works with major manufacturers to test and design new formulas and applications.
Contact Belmont metals for more information about various products and services today.